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A Few Words of Thanks For MISTER ROGERS

Dave here, just making note of an historic occasion, the airing of the final new episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. A show we all know, a show so many of us watched and loved over the years.

Today, as for so long, much of our television, children's television included, is marked by a lack of substance or meaning. As in film, television is marked by a fast-paced format, with quick cuts, pop music, and other appeals to the attention defecit disorder afflicted population we are all a part of.

Of course, one of the nice things about Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was that it aired on PBS, which meant it aired without commercials for the tons of plastic garbage that retailers continue to foist upon the nation's children, even if it occasionally asked those children and their parents to pledge money in exchange for a mug. In any case, the show was the work of a true visionary, it didn't change with the times based on perceived commercial appeal.

Fred Rogers has been and continues to be one of the most truly talented people on earth. A gifted pianist and songwriter, and the driving force behind one of the greatest shows ever produced for children. As if that isn't enough, he's a prolific author, whose many books regarding and for children are understanding, creative, and most importantly, worthwhile.

Most prominently, though, he has served as a Zen master for a nation whose people, children and adults, desperately need a calming influence. Of the many shows for children I have seen, the prevailing trend seems to be either an interest in selling product, such as the frighteningly brilliant and all-encompassing world of Pokemon, or in packing vast amounts of stimulation into a show, either in the form of information, as seen in shows like Sesame Street, or in a more raw form, perhaps for stimulating rapid neuronal ganglia formation, as seen in the oddly hypnotic Teletubbies.

Apart from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, I can think of no other show that does a better job of teaching children how to actually handle all of this information. How to really deal with the world, which is so full of problems, for children and adults alike. Fred Rogers has a voice that is more soothing than most parents, and a general peacefulness about him that is instantly reassuring. He offers wisdom to his viewers that they can use in their lives. Simple, clear, and true ideas that are not only key to growing up and being able to live independently, they are the keys to living interdependently in a civilized society. On no other show in all of television is such a message presented more consistently, more effectively.

We are extremely fortunate to have had Fred Rogers in our living rooms for so long, and to have had so much of his kindness and wisdom recorded for future generations. It's hard to think of anyone on Earth who is likely to have more adoring fans, or fewer enemies. I'd like to wish Mr. Rogers the very best for many years to come, and to thank him for all that he has given to his country and the world. Very few people I know of have lived their lives better, for better purpose, or by better means.

Thank you, Mister Rogers.

-Dave Alvarado, El Cosmico

dave@aintitcool.com

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 31, 2001, 3:31 p.m. CST

    Hear Hear

    by jatg

    Ah, Goodbye Mr. Rogers. I'll miss you flipping your shoes, putting on your cardigan, feeding your fish and collecing packages from Mr. McFeelie. Ding ding ding, went the Trolly.

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 3:31 p.m. CST

    Wow

    by Jonny Quest

    I had no idea the show was ending. I guess I just assumed it would keep going on forever, Fred Rogers' advancing age to the contrary. Well, he had a terrific run and I wish him the best. Thanks for all the great childhood memories, Mr. R.

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 3:57 p.m. CST

    The Secret of Life...

    by Vance Castaway

    A few years ago, I had the opportunity to watch Fred Rogers be interviewed for a full hour on Chalie Rose. During the interview, as he is prone to do, Mr. Rose asked some penetrating questions of his guest. One of these questions that night was to ask Mr. Rogers out of the blue, "What is the secret of life?". Mr. Rogers paused to ponder the question for a moment, and then responded... "The secret of life...is that when you are with another person... whether in the flesh or on the phone... is to make sure that other person does not feel alone...." Peace

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 4:16 p.m. CST

    Vance, you just answered something, I've been wondering about fo

    by El Tronerino

    I'm not american, but as a movie geek, I'm kind of an American- culture-ponderer by default. The whole Mr Rogers thing is referenced so many times, in so many places on film and TV, that I've always wondered what the deal was? And now I know.

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 4:17 p.m. CST

    Like an evil Mr Rogers........

    by Kizeesh

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 4:19 p.m. CST

    it was a line from Demolition man

    by Kizeesh

    I also share the ununderstanding of who or what Mr Rogers is, I was led to believe he was in fact quite evil in a kids tv turns out to be satanism type of way, still maybe they were pulling my leg damned yankees.

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 4:30 p.m. CST

    Thankfully, the show isn't going to disappear.

    by vroom socko

    It's my understanding that PBS is going to rerun the show in perpetuity. This means, thankfully, that when I have kids of my own, they'll be able to learn from Mr. Rogers as I did. (Of course, the day I have children a great famine will probably planket the earth, and the worlds oceans will turn to blood, but that's neither here nor there.)

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 4:30 p.m. CST

    Thankfully, the show isn't going to disappear.

    by vroom socko

    It's my understanding that PBS is going to rerun the show in perpetuity. This means, thankfully, that when I have kids of my own, they'll be able to learn from Mr. Rogers as I did. (Of course, the day I have children a great famine will probably planket the earth, and the worlds oceans will turn to blood, but that's neither here nor there.)

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 4:46 p.m. CST

    Genuine

    by zacdilone

    I had the pleasure of meeting Fred Rogers a few years ago. The bigwigs at the TV studio where I worked as a flunkie were giving him a tour of the building. I was told to look busy and fade into the background. When he came through, he introduced himself to me and I mentioned I grew up near Pittsburgh. After that, everyone else disappeared and he and I carried on a lovely conversation for a few moments, while the suits stood impatiently, wondering who this clod was taking up Mr. Rogers' valuable time. Nevertheless, he took great interest in me and spoke in words of encouragement and authenticity. He was who is is on TV, that's for sure. He was more interested in chatting with a nobody at the soundboard then playing to the corporate power-players at the studio. He is a genuine human being, and I am glad he will not be totally absent from the airwaves. Everybody sing with me, "You're special..to me!"

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 5:26 p.m. CST

    I'm glad there will be re runs...

    by FilmTantric

    When I have children of my own (god forbid!) I'd like them to grow up watching Mr. Rogers just like me. Thanks and God bless.

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 6:29 p.m. CST

    staying home from scool

    by barno

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 6:37 p.m. CST

    expanding

    by barno

    though I got it, I am old. playing sick in the 70's, watching beverly hillbillys reruns, secret storm, capt.Kangaroo, 12 Oclock High Gene Rayburn, the unknown comic, zoom kids, speed racer, fred rogers and walter C telling us about apollo 13 while the Electric company was giving me the willys.... things pass.....

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 7:39 p.m. CST

    An Inspiration

    by blocktek

    I had the extreme honor of working on an episode of 'Mister Roger's Nieghborhood' a couple of years ago (see my photo at www.flyingwombat.com). All during the day that he visited Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, he was mobbed by adults and children alike. I never once saw him lose his cool or become flustered. He looked each and every person in the eye as he met them and made genuine contact. I was just the soundman on the job, and he took the time to make me feel special and to tell me that my "daughters must be very lucky to have such a wonderful father as you". I have never met such an honest and genuine person in my life. People make fun of Mr. Rogers, but they have never been in his presence. Esquire Magazine did a wonderful profile of Fred Rogers a few years back. I'd recommend looking it up in your local library for a great insight into the man.

  • Aug. 31, 2001, 9:44 p.m. CST

    Cool dude, that Rogers!!

    by Eugene O

    I know that most of you think he's a fag...but let me tell you that he has more knowledge about how to raise children than anyone on EARTH!! You have to take an interest in them as PEOPLE! You have to address their human frailties, etc. Fred Rogers should be made a saint!!!!!

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 12:25 a.m. CST

    When?

    by Shrevie

    Wonderful report. I echo all sentiments, but when does the last show air? Was it yesterday? Today? Tomorrow? ..."Tomorrow, tomorrow. I'll see you all tomorrow..." ...Sigh.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 5:32 a.m. CST

    Mr. Rogers: Jazz Maverick

    by Darth Brooks

    Something I have to thank Fred Rogers for is the appreciation of jazz on his show. During the 60's and 70's, his music director on the show was John Costa, perhaps one of the best jazz pianists since Art Tatum. Every day, Mr. Costa would vamp on three minutes of "Tomorrow, Tomorrow" over the end credits, and each improv would differ from the previous day's. On occassion, Fred would bring John Costa into the show and have him play some tune, then explain concepts like pitch and tempo while he played a song like "Blue Moon" or "Brazil". This, you didn't get on "Electric Company" or "Zoom." Thank God I had the chance to grow up during the Age of Rogers.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 6:15 a.m. CST

    Would you be my? Could you be my neighbor?

    by Bad Guy

    The show never felt like you were being taught life lessons. It was all done in such a relaxed way, not heavy-handed like so much of kid's programming is today. Nice to know it'll still be on the air for future generations of kids.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 8:46 a.m. CST

    download 'Korn - Mr.Rogers'

    by X-Girls

    there's a messed up song about Mr.Rogers that I'm sure you'll all enjoy.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 10:08 a.m. CST

    "Let's Get Together, This Beautiful Day..."

    by Comedian

    Man, I loved Mr. Rogers when I was a kid. He was kind of like Bob Ross for preschoolers wasn't he. So mellow and cool about everything. So many bizarre goofy quirks like taking off his shoes to put on canvas shoes and switching the jacket for the cardigan. And how about The Land of Make Believe. That King Friday was such a blowhard. I wish every mail man was as nice as the speedy delivery guy. If only the world were as nice and Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood. Sure, it's easy to be cynical and make innuendo about a single middle aged man who lives alone and talks to puppets. It's alot harder to look back and realize that most of us were indeed raised or at least babysat by the idiot box and be thankful that it was Fred Rodgers teaching us right and wrong and not Ash, Misty and Brock. Bravo, Fred. Have a good life. On a side note does anybody remember the episode where he went to the set of The Incredible Hulk and they showed how Lou Ferrigno had to sit in the chair to get painted and get the prosthetic forehead? That was one of the most bizzare crossovers in TV history. Those of you who are make up & effects people and in your early to mid 20's may pose and say that you got into this bussiness because of Rick Baker but somewhere subconsciously it was really Fred Rodgers who turned you on to the scene. This post was brought to you by the Corporation for Public Talkbacking and A Grant From The Helena Rubinstein Foundation.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 10:25 a.m. CST

    Mr. Rogers, Captain Kangaroo, Buffalo Bob, Hobo Kelly, Miss Mary

    by Uncapie

    ..hats off to the great ones who inspired children all over the United States. No one can can your places in history. You were the best.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 10:30 a.m. CST

    And..."Billy Barty's Big Top!"

    by Uncapie

    "My name is Billy Barty and we're going to have a party, where there's a prize for every boy and girl..."

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 11:02 a.m. CST

    I remember that!

    by Wallace Nussbaum

    Yes, Comedian, I fondly recall the Lou Ferrigno episode. I remember that I was always a bit afraid of the Hulk on TV, but when I saw how they made him, I wasn't so scared anymore. In fact, after that I really liked watching the Incredible Hulk. But Bill Bixby's eyes still freaked me out until I learned about contacts. My favorite episodes were the ones where Mr. Rogers took us to see how things were made, like the crayon factory or the eraser factory. I distinctly recall a visit to a mushroom farm. It was neat. It looked like a coal mine, all underground and stuff. I used to like Daniel the tiger and his truck. The owl was neat too. I'm glad I grew up in the late 70s and early 80s. There were so many swell things to learn and see and play and do. I weep for today's youth. It must suck to be them.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 11:09 a.m. CST

    TalkBack Randomizer

    by Wallace Nussbaum

    Why is my response to Comedian's post placed above his? When will Harry get this fixed? Is this some sort of plot to create a Dadaist, nonlinear talkback? What would Mr. Rogers say? I think he'd be disappointed and perhaps change his shoes.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 11:54 a.m. CST

    Thanks to El Cosmico

    by Zachsmind

    Thank you Dave Alvarado for a benediction to the finest molder of children's minds found in the twentieth century. Your words were both honorable and thought-provoking. You remind me why I keep coming back to AICN, because occasionally what is presented here truly warms the heart, and can be found nowhere else. The world of make believe will no longer be televised.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 12:15 p.m. CST

    When I saw headline reading "The End of the Neighborhood"...

    by otis von zipper

    I freaked out thinking Fred Rogers had died. I just hate even thinking about that. Futhermore, I was surprised to find out the show was still in production. Nice job PBS for deciding to run the program this long and wanting to rerun old shows indefinitely. How else will future generations understand Eddie Murphy's Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood sketch?

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 1:23 p.m. CST

    Mr Rogers is the Bomb

    by Z0D

    It's too bad that times change. For one thing, I also grew up on Mr Rogers during the late 70s and early to mid 80s. There wasn't anything else on except cartoons like Scooby and The Jetson's. Today is one hell of a mess. Instead of Mr. Rogers being on top, we have stars parading around feeding today's children with empty promises. For example, does Britney teach morals, ethics, and values? Heck no! Do the Backstreet Boys do it? NO. But thank god the show will still be on so that some parents will encourage their children to watch some real entertainment. Everything associated with POP sucks, except Michael Jackson.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 3:40 p.m. CST

    Agreed

    by Optimus_Maximus

    As Brak would say..."Mr. Rogers, we salute you!" Hats off to the man. Optimus out.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 3:49 p.m. CST

    Thanks for that tribute

    by Redbox

    My father worked with Fred in the 50's, he actually created the set for the original show (Fred used to just do the puppets and had a woman who hosted, I think it started with only X the owl and Daniel Tiger). I've met Mr. Rogers several times (first when I was about six) and I found him to be exactly like he was on TV. There was no backstage side to this man. I think you're exactly right on the Zen master title, Fred has brought a lot of humanity to a world in which media teaches us to take from and to win, to beat others or get left behind. I really got a lot out of watching him each day, and though I almost snicker when I think about Mr. Rogers explaining death through his goldfish, I still remember how profoundly beautiful that moment was for a young me frightened by life's unknown quantities. Anyway, Thanks for your amazing tribute, I really takes me back, and makes me think about sincerity and how Barney is just a babysitter, while Mr. Rogers is a Sensi. And I think its wonderful the way this talk back reflects the same kind of respectful discourse that our neighbor would approve of. Maybe you guys can start some kind of sub discussion group from this. P.S. Anybody notice Lady Aberlain from the Land of Make Believe, as the Nun in the beginning of DOGMA?

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 4:08 p.m. CST

    Fred Rogers rocks the party that rocks the body

    by ItsOver

    I was more partial to Jim Henson's shows when I was young but my brother was a big Mr. Rogers fan. I love how he didn't have a self congratulatory send off. From what I understand, he made it seem like any other show and told the kids he would be back next week. Little kids won't know the difference and he doesn't run the risk of upsetting young kids saying that he's going away. From what I understand, Fred Rogers is as pleasant and warm a man in real life as he was on the show. I hope he enjoys his retirement and takes pride in the fact he made millions of children happy.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 4:21 p.m. CST

    Fred's example

    by KazamaSmokers

    Fred Rogers is what we should all aspire to be... a fundamentally decent man who has spent his life starting countless children on a path toward being fundamentally decent people. Thank you, Mister Rogers.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 4:43 p.m. CST

    Finally, a decent and civil talkback.

    by Manos

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 4:49 p.m. CST

    Finally, a decent talkback

    by Manos

    Fred Rogers had qualities that we should all emulate. Honesty, integrity, and a genuine love for his fellow man. He is also a Christian. Whenever you more liberal talk-backers start ranting about those 'right wing, conservative, religious jerks (and often with good cause), I can point at Fred Rogers and say, "That is what it means to be a Christian. That is who and what I am." Love, forgiveness, and acceptance, and yet a firm committment to all that is right and good - that is Fred Rogers, and God help me, that is who I want to be.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 6:45 p.m. CST

    I remember a PBS documentary/biopic on Mr. Rogers about 13 years

    by vroom socko

    All I remember from it is Mr. Rogers meeting Eddie Murphy sometime after the first Mr. Robinson bit appeared on SNL. Eddie immediately turned into a gushing fanboy, saying "it's the real Mr. Rogers!" Does anyone else remember seeing this?

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 6:56 p.m. CST

    So long, Mister Rogers. See you tomorrow...

    by Huneybee

    I rarely visit the TV part of AICN, but when I saw this tb I felt an urge to say good-bye to an icon of children's television. It is good to know that the show will still be around as it is a staple at our house.____A Reverent Bee

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 7:56 p.m. CST

    Wow

    by EvilMcSatan

    I haven't thought about the show in years, but this news has really affected me.

  • Sept. 1, 2001, 8:42 p.m. CST

    It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood

    by Essemtee

    We Canucks had our own version of Mister Rogers: Mr. Dressup. His show had the same format, treehouse dwelling puppets Casey, a young boy, and Finnegan, his floppy-eared dog, plus portions of the show devoted to arts and crafts, or how to draw. Granted, with his Tickle Trunk that contained costumes to play make-believe games with, Ernie Coombs was more animated and not as mellow as Fred Rogers, but he was just as loved by young children and their parents. I admire the fact that both shows have a timeless appeal to them. But it's sad to know that if they were pitched today instead of years ago, neither show would have a chance in hell of getting funded or produced. Yes, it must suck to be today's youth.

  • Sept. 2, 2001, 3:17 a.m. CST

    Mister Rodgers Neighborhood, Sesame Street. . .

    by Sith Lord Jesus

    . . .then Saturday morning cartoons and finally TV sitcoms. Then nothing for a long while until I discovered anime. That was the approximate order of battle as I grew up. Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood, best children's TV show ever. It probably couldn't be made today because Mr. Rodgers didn't use it to shill lots of cheap toys and such. Sad. Have a great retirement, Mr. Rodgers--you earned it.

  • Sept. 2, 2001, 6:26 a.m. CST

    Take care, old friend

    by ewem

    True quality children's television officially ends with the end of his show. He was the last stalwart of anything with heart or intelligence. Now, it really will be nothing but Pokemon and other brainless fodder with no respite. Thanks for being such a special part of my childhood, Mr. Rogers. God Bless! :-)

  • Sept. 2, 2001, 7:45 a.m. CST

    Mister Rogers and the Mushroom Farm

    by ellid

    The reason the mushroom farm looked like a coal mine is simple: it *was* a coal mine. There are a lot of abandoned mines in the Pittsburgh area, and several have been turned into mushroom farms. There's a very large one up near Butler, I believe. As for Mister Rogers, I loved him dearly when I was a child, and still remember being heartbroken when we moved to Cleveland from Pittsburgh and found that Mister Rogers was not on their NET station. I was *so* happy when Mister Rogers went national about a year later, even though I was getting too old to watch. God bless and good luck to a truly good and gentle man, who understood that communicating with children doesn't require explosions, screams, and smash cuts, just sincerity and love.

  • Sept. 2, 2001, 7:57 a.m. CST

    Dammit

    by jimimack

    Every time I think about this I get a little misty-eyed. Its like Mr. Rogers represented everything that is innocent about being a child. As a 32 year-old, I'll never get that back again. God bless, Fred.

  • Sept. 2, 2001, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Mr. Rogers was (is) the Advil of children's programming...

    by DarthSnoogans

    to help relieve the migraine-inducing effects of hyper-violent Japanese cartoons and commercials for sugary products that make kids even more hyperactive and inattentive. Mr. Rogers is a calming voice in a medium that is increasingly serving the purpose of shutting kids up for half an hour while Mommy's little helpers kick in. He deserves the rest...he did more good work in this world than most of us feeble porn-addicted losers could ever hope to produce.

  • Sept. 2, 2001, 2:37 p.m. CST

    Wow. Kudos to all....

    by carlos

    I am impressed by this talkback. Makes my redneck heart feel all warm and giddy. Fred Rogers is the man and deserves every bit of respect and praise given.

  • Sept. 2, 2001, 7:45 p.m. CST

    SS, MR and EC

    by Condorman111

    I grew up in Maryland, where we didn't have Zoom, which people seem to have liked, but I grew up on Sesame, Mr. R and Electric Company. I learned how to read by sitting by myself and watching TV. No lie. I also liked Villa Allegre, but I had no clue what was going on. As for Mr. Rogers specifically, I have to admit I was always biding my time until the trolley came by, and always hoped for the show where Mr. R would somehow make it into the neihborhood of make believe (although I think there was a behind-the-scenes episode, which I don't count). Anyway, thanks for the life-long memories. I haven't read the above posts yet. Any summary of what happened on the last show?

  • Sept. 4, 2001, 7:51 a.m. CST

    It's not like his show will get that outdated

    by Geekgrrl

    Kids won't know the difference. I'm so glad he filmed enough episodes that any pop culture references - like the Incredible Hulk - can just be edited out. Mr Rogers was what Barney wanted to be - sweet and kind and wonderful --- and genuine. I'll be showing it to my kids. Sigh. Too bad he retired though.

  • Sept. 4, 2001, 11:46 a.m. CST

    Taking my Time

    by ww'sdaughter

    Mr. Rogers' songs are the mantra of my life. I know I have met a true soul mate when I here some fellow singing, "I like to take my time, I mean that when I have to do a thing, I like to take my time and do it right." or "It's you I like, not the things you wear, not the way you do your hair but it's you I like!" God bless him. And God bless us, every one!

  • Sept. 4, 2001, 12:46 p.m. CST

    Memories

    by Amazing Kreskin

    Thinking back, I realize, I grew up on this show, among others: Sesame Street, Electric Company (Spiderman was corny, but still cool); I didn't discover Square One (Mathnet!) until much later. But I remember the episide with the crayon factory, as well as the time he had to dispute a parking ticket (he was in the store getting change for the meter). I was able to catch the show recently, and the it's still the same as I remember it, though some things have changed (he was showing how to change the mouse on a computer). I don't know where the whole "Everyone know he's a child-molestor" thing came from, there were never any kids on the show. Bottom Line: Thanks, Fred. Part of who I am today is thanks to you, becasue you took the time to teach people about respecting others. -- Thank You, Amazing Kreskin

  • Sept. 4, 2001, 4:25 p.m. CST

    A beautiful person...

    by vistavision

    Thank God for Fred Rodgers-I'm glad he will doing other things, so it won't be a complete goodbye! I was reading a article where a woman said that growing up with an alcoholic father and a mentally ill mother was bearable only because Fred Rodgers was there to say she was special and worthwhile. What a gift...

  • Sept. 5, 2001, 10:27 a.m. CST

    Bless Mr Rogers and Lady Aberlin and the rest...

    by rap12

    I had the pleasure of meeting Betty Aberlin in Greenwich Village some years back; she was as beautiful as when she first appeared on the show all those years ago, and she was absolutely a LADY, kind and sweet and beautiful. She was obviously very fond of her Pittsburgh job and of the value that it had for children, and of Mr Rogers himself. I have never forgotten meeting her and if she is reading this, I wish her, Mr Rogers, and all the rest of the Neighborhood well and God Bless.

  • Sept. 8, 2001, 9:14 a.m. CST

    Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live

    by Regis Travolta

    Took this to the highest level of spoofery mixed with flattery. EM's Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood was a perfect satire with Robinson always stealing TV's and radios and stuff from his neighbors then running and hiding from that mean old nasty landlord who wanted the monthly rent! Well done by Murphy and a caustic but sincere affectionate tribute to Fred Rogers. Who now has a new career right here on the net at a PBS site, I think PBS.Rogers.org or something like that.